Transitioning from your steady, comfortable home to life in a brand-new country is always something of an adrenaline rush. On the downside, you’ll notice that life is very different, wherever you go. It can be stressful and worrisome - that’s why the team at Housing Anywhere has put in the hours preparing this guide for you. We’ve all moved and lived abroad, for study and work, and we want to make things a little easier for you. You could say this is the guide we all wished we’d had over the years!
You’ll find everything you need to know inside, from staples like language, weather and public holidays to detailed information on accommodation, public transport, Austrian health insurance and much, much more.
Use it, and be sure to have a great time during your stay in Vienna!
Sitting on the banks of the Danube river, Austria’s capital city is an inspiring world of culture, art and modernization - it has it all. With 1.8 million inhabitants, it may seem pretty busy if you’re coming from a smaller town (or even a large-ish city!) but you’ll soon discover that there’s a local vibe to living in Vienna which has you feeling at home, wherever in the city you might go.
Renowned for its cultural presence, there are countless theatres, films and even dance festivals which call Vienna their home. They’re also known for quiet, impressionable coffee shops - the true classroom for any modern student.
The official, national language of Austria is German, and you’ll find that pretty much everyone in the country can speak it - but that’s certainly not to say that everyone will. It’s the de facto language in school and industry (though sometimes, of course, work is in English) but there are also other dialects and offshoots of German which are favored by locals.
Alemannic is the primary dialect in Vorarlberg, and Austro-Bavarian is the tongue of choice outside it. If you live outside of Vorarlberg, you will probably find their language extremely difficult to comprehend - even if you’re perfectly fluent in German. The language in Vienna is predominantly German, with plenty of English, so international students tend to fare pretty well here.
Austria is one of those wonderful countries which actually has the four seasons we all learned about it school! Unlike some northern cities like Rotterdam, there’s a cold, biting winter and a hot, tanning summer with clear migrations between the two. It can reach about 30oC in the middle of the year, so you should try to come out before your studies officially start as there are lots of things to do in Vienna over summer!
Interestingly, July is usually the hottest month of the year, but June traditionally has the highest rainfall. We did say that Vienna has normal seasons, not that it was perfect… ;)
January 1st - New Year’s Day is more special in Vienna than virtually any other European city. The Austrian capital plays host to a world-renowned concert on New Year’s morning, in the concert hall of the Viennese Music Association. Performed by the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra, it is a glorious spectacle which is not to be missed! Can you think of any better way to welcome the new year?
October 26th - Austrian National Day is celebrated in memory of the political developments following World War Two, wherein Austria was finally liberated of its decade-long occupation of the allied forces. There are events across the city, including the swearing in of new recruits to the armed forces. Other National Day celebrations in Vienna take place in Heldenplatz public square and gardens.
December 25th - Christmas Day - While this is, of course, not unique to the Viennese population, things are done a little differently here. Christmas Day really begins at 4pm on the 24th - this is when houses light their trees for the first time and start singing carols! The Christkind then bring in all the presents, leaving them by the tree for everyone to delightedly discover the following morning! If you’re able to spend Christmas Eve with a family or group of friends here, you won’t regret it.
In 2017, Vienna was voted the most livable city in the world for the eighth time in a row! From the political and economic climate, to medical care, public transport and recreational activities, Vienna has outdone every rival time and again - why would you not go there?
The so-called Viennese Ball Season runs from December 31st until Shrove Tuesday (aka pancake day) and consists of over 450 balls throughout the capital! Better pack your dancing shoes.
There are 1730 acres of wine-growing surface within the city limits - Vienna actually produces wine in the city! Need we say more?
Ever thoughts "Man, if only there was a free, 55,000-square-foot waterpark just outside my city"? Well, wonder no more - that’s exactly what you get at Danube Island.
Viennese coffee houses are renowned across Europe and the World, and in 2011 they were recognized on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list as special areas where "time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the check."
Remember PEZ? The little dispensers which fueled your hyperactivity as a kid, with tiny but delicious candies? Invented in Vienna, 30 years before they migrated across to the US.
Croissants - the famous Viennese pasty! What, you thought they were French? Mais non! They actually have their origins in Vienna, and they are positively sumptuous - you’ll learn to love them!
Vienna is also home to the world’s oldest operational Ferris Wheel. The Wiener Riesenrad is found at the Wurstelprater amusement park - one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions.
Forget PEZ - the snow globe was also invented here! In fact, it was invented by accident as a clever inventor sought to improve the standard of light bulbs...How? You’ll have to find out.
Vienna was once divided into four quarters (following WW2) which were held by the British, the French, the Americans and the Soviets - this ended in 1955, but it a pretty fun fact, right?